Many South Africans were relieved by the announcement that the country would move to alert level 1. I was grateful too, for the sake of the economy – which is the main reason for the move to level 1. Although it did leave me wondering if our country was genuinely ready for the responsibility that came with Alert Level 1.
We battled in higher alert levels for people in some parts of the country to adhere to lockdown restrictions, I could not see how level 1 would be any different.
Where are the law enforcers?
We’ve seen liquor outlets operating illegally while they still had the stock to do so. Gatherings taking place while they were not permitted to and funerals being held with way more than 50 attendees. All this, while law enforcement was absent in making sure that restrictions were being adhered to.
Two weeks ago, my neighbours had a violent encounter because there was a gathering in our street; way past curfew, with more people than were allowed under alert level 2. The cops arrived but the gathering was not broken up. People were not sent home and no one was arrested. They put an end to the violence but the party continued.
My question then is; if the police were scarce in communities during higher alert levels, now that the number of attendees allowed for outside gatherings has been increased to a maximum of 500, and 250 for inside a venue, will there be more of a police presence to make sure that this is the case?
Or is it up to us as South African citizens to make sure, that as individuals, we are adhering to restrictions? I think it’s the latter. I have always thought it’s the latter and that for me is the problem; that as a country we are not selfless enough to be entirely mindful of the next person.
The ‘new normal’
People celebrated the announcement of level 1 as if the announcement was accompanied by an approved vaccine readily available in South Africa.
In an economics class, while discussing the impacts of a global pandemic like the Coronavirus on the economy – a learner put up his hand and asked: “Miss, why are we still talking about this, Corona is finished, it’s level 1”. His question was followed by a roar of cheers from his peers. Where did they get this idea? Not from school. Not from the announcement by the president. It seems this is what they are being taught at home.
There is continuous talk about the ‘new normal’ but how many people are genuinely willing to embrace it. We want our lives in the ‘new normal’ to look exactly as it did before, just with the addition of COVID. The use of the word ‘new’ before normal implies that this normal previously did not exist. Why then are we so adamant to have gatherings look the same as they did in February?
If we’re moving forward responsibly under the new normal, why not have a family gathering where everyone is wearing masks or mouth shields, and social distancing? Why do we still want to gather together as if there’s no COVID? We are so stuck in our ways that we don’t even recognise the risk there is in holding on to them.
We are responsible for one another.
The way I see it. We are responsible for ourselves and our loved ones. The concerns you had at level 5; should still be there in the back of your mind, guiding your actions. If you were concerned about your life, your elderly parents and the rest of your family, you should still be.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t live our lives, but when invitations include a clause that reads “wear your mask, don’t wear your mask” it leaves me apprehensive that we are not being as considerate of each other as we should be. When influential institutions downplay the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing, I wonder who is supposed to be leading by example if not them.
As it stands, South Africa’s coronavirus statistics look like this: 16 206 deaths, 665 188 cases, 594 229 recoveries which brings the recovery rate to 89.3%. Although there are still about 10 000 new cases reported weekly, the positive recovery rate is definitely something to look at smilingly.
A statistic we don’t see reported is one that shows the adverse health effects COVID has had on some individuals post-COVID. There are people recorded as part of that recovery statistic who have had to take an oxygen machine home with them because, although they have recovered, they are unable to fully breathe on their own. Some have had to inject themselves with blood thinners twice a day and will have to do so for at least 6 months to avoid blood clots. Others have developed fatal blood clots post COVID-19 and therefore have not been recorded as part of the death statistic that has so drastically dropped.
Yes, we are at alert level 1 and that comes with wonderful opportunities to live our best lives. This alert level, however, requires us to be even more responsible, more considerate and still exercise caution.
While supporting the economy – remember wherever you go, whatever you do, you’re basically taking your loved ones with you. Keep them safe by being safe.
*These are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.